Energy commission will ‘Solarize’ Wilton
In October, Wilton’s Economic Development Commission hosted a public forum in the Brubeck Room at Wilton Library and heard presentations from three residents, each with his or her own idea for how better to develop the town economically. One of these ideas was branding Wilton as a “green town.”
“The Energy Commission agrees with that,” said Energy Commission Chair Bruce Hampson at the Board of Selectmen’s Nov. 2 meeting, and that’s why he, on behalf of the commission, recommended the selectmen approve a memorandum of understanding reflecting their support of an initiative the state calls “Solarize Wilton.”
A motion was made by Michael Kaelin, seconded by Deborah McFadden, and the selectmen voted all in favor of approving the memorandum.
Funded by the Connecticut Green Bank, Solarize Connecticut is a statewide energy program designed to encourage the adoption of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the incentive being that, for a single community, the more residents who sign up, the cheaper the installation of solar panels becomes for everyone.
When a community enrolls in the program, the program takes the name of that community, à la Solarize Wilton.
In the past, Solarize Connecticut has achieved cash benefits for homes through a tiered pricing structure in which a single installer is specified for a particular community and rebates in that community are administered when participation in the program reaches certain milestones.
But Energy Commission Vice Chair Debra Thompson-van sees that process as putting “undue pressure” on residents to employ certain vendors.
“The issue with that,” she said, “is maybe not everybody wants to choose the same vendor, and if your neighbor’s pricing is based on who you choose, there may be some undue pressure to choose that particular vendor.”
Therefore, the commission, while still planning to vet, select, and recommend one vendor out of the three to five expected bids, “by no means, however, requires that a residence use this vendor,” explained Thompson- van, adding that special pricing will be available for any and all of the proposals.
According to Thompson-van, the state is already sending out formal requests for proposals (RFPs), and now that the town has approved the memorandum, interviewing will begin mid-December.
The program will formally launch Jan. 14, and over the course of the following 18 weeks, residents will have the opportunity to sign up for Solarize Wilton.
Installation must conclude by the end of 2016 if the town wants to take advantage of certain federal and state tax incentives, which expire at that time.
To date, 55 towns in the state have participated in Solarize Connecticut.
According to Thompson-van, “There will be a series of outreach programs that will be planned” to get the word out about Solarize Wilton.
The Connecticut Green Bank is a quasi-public agency that leverages public and private funds to accelerate the growth of green energy in Connecticut.